So in Santo Domingo de la Calzada we were about a quarter of the way from Pamplona to Santiago de Compostella. We had come about 175 km so far. Before we began this adventure, we were not sure we would be able to complete the long walk. We discovered that if you get up everyday and put one foot ahead of the other all day long, day after day – it works – the kms really add up!
But it is an ongoing mental challenge. “Am I going to complete this journey or am I going to quit?” we asked ourselves most days, as did many other pilgrims we presume. You find out what you are made off and who you really are. The path is made in walking, the saying goes. It was OK to ask for help. And if someone asked you for help, you helped them – it was an honour to be asked. We were all in it together and had each others’ backs. A common purpose and goal – not unlike the current Covid-19 pandemic lock down situation. Barriers between strangers melt away.
Marie’s feet were better so we headed out for Viloria de la Rioja, a distance of about 15 km just east of Belorado. We were in for a very pleasant surprise that night at the 12 bed privately owned Acacio y Orietta Albergue.
We were the first to arrive. Acacio and Orietta our hosts were from Brazil. They were most accommodating. It had been cool and raining a bit. They invited us to sit by the fire and have a cup of tea. Acacio was passionate about the Camino, had statistics at his fingertips and could answer any question we posed in at least 3 different languages. After, I dozed off a bit. When I awoke, another person had arrived and was chatting about their camino. It was the lady we had seen in Najera and chatted with on the trail a bit.
Turns out she was an opera singer from France (or Germany?) and was planning to give a short concert in the cathedral in Santiago when she got there. She was explaining that for her, the Camino was about the journey, not the destination. She was walking to the beat of her own drum, not following the recommended daily distances etc. Content to walk on her own, she did not talk for long but had merely stopped in to warm up before trudging off again. In the days ahead, I remember thinking about what she had said and thinking she was right. Unfortunately we do not remember her name and did not get a photo.
About 6 PM a group of 6 cyclers – all Spanish young men – checked into the refugio for the night. So there would be 7 men and Marie all seeping in the same room tonight I thought. Orvietta with Acacio’s help cooked us a wonderful dinner. I am sure there was plenty of wine to go around. We laughed and laughed and laughed the whole evening. Somehow we could all understand each other, each in his own language.
We had such a good time. Biking the Camino rather than walking is extremely popular. There were bikers everywhere but they stuck to the nearby roads rather than the path so it was rare that we would meet. What a great bunch of guys! Orietta was so nice too! She took one look at me with my low slung backpack, had me take it off and she cinched up the shoulder straps so it would ride some 4 inches higher. My pack felt lighter after that. The next morning they posed for the great photo below.
We said our goodbyes after a great stay and wished each other Buen Camino! Dave is still connected with Acacio and Orietta through their Facebook page where you can see a photo of the interior of their homey refugio that we will not soon forget.